Pakistan judges decision delayed

Ruling coalition puts off divisive issue as presidential vote set for September 6.

    Sharif, centre, had threatened to quit the coalition if deal was not reached on Friday [AFP]

    Sharif, who was forced from the premiership by Musharraf in a bloodless coup, had threatened to pull out of Pakistan's ruling coalition unless a deal was reached by Friday.

    But he told a news conference after meeting the leaders of two smaller parties in the coalition, who had been trying to mediate on the dispute: "Wednesday should be the day for reinstatement of judges."

    Parliamentary debate

    Sharif said that representatives of his PML-N party and the Pakistan People's Party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto would over the weekend draft a resolution on restoring the judges.

    Parliament is then expected to vote on the issue on Wednesday.

    "We do not want to quit the coalition and wish to go along with our coalition partners," Sharif said.

    Musharraf deposed the 60 judges, including the chief justice, after placing Pakistan under emergency rule in November.

    "It seems like the PP have no intention of actually restoring the judges, they are just bidding for time," Babar Sattar, an Islambad-based political analyst, told Al Jazeera.

    "Parliaments don't really make policies, parties make policies, and there is no political party in the parliament right now. Even the opposition has moved a resolution to restore all judges, including Iftikar Chaudry."

    Presidential contest

    The presidential election could also prove divisive, with both Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and PPP chairman, being talked of as potential candidates.

    "There is rallying support behind Pakistan People's Party chairman Asif Ali Zardari, to be the presidential candidate," Raja Assad Hameed, a special correspondent for the Pakistani newspaper The Nation, told Al Jazeera.

    "Nawaz Sharif has been distanting himself from nominating Zardari and he has been saying that ... somebody [less] political and controversial [should be nominated by the ruling coalition instead] so that he could emerge as the symbol of the federation and president of Pakistan."

    Nomination papers for the presidency can be filed from August 26 and the final date for any withdrawals will be August 30, Kanwar Dilshad, the election commission secretary, said on Friday.

    Under Pakistan's constitution a new president is elected by members of the country's four provincial assemblies and the national parliament within 30 days of the post becoming vacant.

    "After Musharraf resigned there was an expectation that ... the ruling coalition, everybody would get their act together, however those differences have multiplied," Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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